Listen Up: Wednesday, May 10, 2006
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Crushed Stars

Obsolescence (Arena Rock)

By Tom Urquhart

Obsolescence, the second full-length album from Dallas-based Crushed Stars, is perfect rainy-day weather music — or music to listen to when the world outside simply seems like Hurricane Katrina.

The obvious musical lodestar for multi-instrumentalist Todd Gautreau and his small clutch of passing contributors here is the pre-New Wave dream pop of Big Star, Dead Can Dance, and occasionally Nick Drake. While most of the tempos are, well, down, Gautreau and company’s tuneage rarely comes off as outright melancholy or pouty. What Crushed Stars do instead to keep the listener’s attention is create a lot of understated sonic drama. In almost every one of the 12 songs on Obsolescence, the band builds anticipation for a decisive thwack! of the snare but never delivers. The bare-bones instrumentation of vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards remains relatively static throughout.

Curiously enough, with significantly more amplification and an able-bodied drummer, some of the songs could be re-done as all-out, balls-to-the-wall rawk tunes. Not that Crushed Stars’ music doesn’t already qualify. If rock ’n’ roll is not just loudness but basically the willingness to say the unsaid in a cool way, then a large portion of Obsolescence nicely epitomizes the genre. As the lyricist, Gautreau is concerned primarily with the Big Picture — love, life, and death — and, while he sometimes misses the mark, he manages a good deal of poignant insights. Buoyed by clean guitar and warm keyb’s and in his soft, steady voice, Gautreau’s words ring with more truth than most of what passes for today’s alt-rock hit parade.


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